This fall, the much-anticipated CMX Pure Manga division of DC Comics launches with five books, including Swan, one of the most popular shojo (or girl's manga), by famed manga writer and artist Ariyoshi Kyoko.
First serialized in Japan in 1971 in Margaret magazine, Swan is the story of Masumi, a young dancer who, despite the lack of proper training, excels in the competitive world of ballet. In Japan, Swan was a hit the minute it was published and continues to top the bestseller lists. The celebrated creator of the book tells PW, "I believe my readers were able to empathize with my characters, which is why it sold so well." In its initial 21-volume printing, the series sold more than 10 million copies.
No wonder that D.C. has high hopes for Swan. "We are unusually excited about the title getting girls over to the manga section," says John Nee, v-p of business development at DC Comics. "[Swan] is different from anything D.C. has ever published." Known for its superhero and action comics, as well as it innovative Vertigo line, D.C. Comics started CMX with the clear intention of publishing stories that appeal to female readers. "Manga struck a cord with the audience here," Nee says, noting that in informal test groups, "all the young girls we showed it to loved it."
And for obvious reasons. Swan pairs anime with ballet, two inherently dream-like mediums of expression that fuel girlish fantasy. The result is a potent combination of passionate characters, gorgeous hair and princess costumes. The black-and-white illustrations are a feast for the eyes.
CMX will release Swan in its original Japanese right-to-left format.
Kyoko seems pleased with the new edition as well. Asked for her reaction to the American publication of Swan, Kyoko says, "I am just delighted. I hope my work will inspire readers in America."